One of Canada’s most respected and enigmatic songwriters, Hayden has returned with a lovely new LP called Us Alone. After years releasing music on his own Hardwood Records imprint, Hayden has signed on with Arts & Crafts, who will send Us Alone out into the world on Feb. 5. You can preview it right here, right now for one week.
ListenUs Alone by Hayden
Streaming until Feb. 5
(Courtesy of Arts & Crafts)
Two and a half years in the making, Us Alone finds Hayden refreshed and ready to greet his audience again with live shows planned across North America in the coming months. Though, as a European tour in December demonstrated, the road back can be a perilous one.
“I’d been terrified to do it and, truth be told, the first couple of shows were nightmare-ish,” Hayden says from his home in Toronto. “Jay [McCarrol] and Taylor [Knox], my bandmates, say there were moments in the middle of the sets, where I would turn around and face them and mouth the words ‘Kill me now.’"
“So yeah, that’s not good,” he says with a laugh. “You don’t wanna be saying that in the middle of a show. I remember doing it once but apparently I did it several times! But everything got better and the rest of the shows were great.”
As fans know, Hayden seems like a fellow who spends a lot of time inside his own head, padding around his thoughts before articulating them in revealing songs. Among the most clear-eyed reflections in his catalogue is “Almost Everything” from Us Alone.
“A particular mood I was in one night,” Hayden replies, when asked of its inspiration. “I was thinking back on the early days playing places like the Moon Room in Oshawa and the Embassy Hotel in London, which I mention in the song. I think enough years had gone by for me to look at it with nice thoughts attached I guess.”
It’s a song that really puts Hayden’s working life in perspective. There’s this refrain about how, at a certain time, “Music was everything” and now it’s “almost everything.”
“On a practical level, it’s difficult for me to have focused time, with a child in the house now,” he explains. “Basically, when I’m in the studio, which is my bedroom, I really make use of my time. I don’t have tons of spare time anymore.”
“I still look for those moments when something is created out of nothing,” he continues. “A guitar and bass part can go together and I have this feeling that lasts for a few days. I get so excited. My thought isn’t ‘What are people gonna think about it?’ but how it made me feel at that moment. That feeling kinda feeds me.”
Beyond it likely being a boring business decision, it’s worth noting that Us Alone marks Hayden’s debut on one of Canada’s wealthiest and most respected labels, Arts & Crafts, shifting away from his own boutique label, Hardwood.
“A few months ago I changed dentists and therapists and I thought maybe changing my record label might be a good idea as well,” Hayden explains.
Dentist? Who changes their dentist?
“Oh, there was a parking issue,” he says. “It was a pain to find parking. But [at the new dentist], they not only have a TV screen that shows you the inside of your mouth while they’re working on you, they also text you reminders of your appointments. It’s a very modern dentist. And I can make the comparison to Arts & Crafts there. Arts & Crafts is very modern."
“I live in the past a little bit,” Hayden admits. “I have this old equipment that emits old smells. I’m in this dusty world and I needed to get out of it. Things have changed; let’s face it.”
IMTo hear the full conversation, you can download an MP3 if you right-click this highlighted text and “Save target as." Or to stream it, press play.
See Hayden play live across Canada and the United States of America in February, March and beyond.
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on Jan 29, 2013